Perpetual Movement

Trance music pioneer BT continues to trip the light fantastic in a never-ending search for sound

"America's great at inventing things and bad at nurturing them," he points out. "I think it's the exact same thing that happened with jazz in the '20s and '30s. Jazz is one of the only great things America's offered to the world musical stage, and instead of embracing it in this country, people were like, 'Oh, it's urban smack music.' That's literally what people thought during that time--it was totally deviant music. It was incredibly underground in this country, and there are a lot of parallels between dance music and jazz. So it got exported, and the only people to embrace it were the Parisians, and in France jazz was the coolest thing ever. So in the end, America goes, 'Oh no, it was our idea, it was an American idiom.' It's the same thing--look at Carl Craig, Derrick May, all the Detroit and Chicago [techno and house producers]--they had to leave this country, as did I, to get any kind of appreciation for what we do because people just didn't get it here. And now in the end, America's saying it was their idea again."

Movement in Still Life, his new album on Nettwerk, might just help push him further into the popular consciousness--there's a cameo by Soul Coughing's lead singer, M. Doughty, and even a full-fledged hip-hop track (featuring Rasco of the Cali Agents). Despite the inroads, BT is content, even hopeful, that electronic music will never be as fully accepted as standard pop music.

"I like the fact that it's still remained anti-establishment," he says. "With the exception of a couple of cheesy Volvo commercials, I think our scene's done all right and it's remained music for the people, which is what it really is."

Trance syndicate: BT (also known as Brian Transeau) and his brand of electronic music were given a leg up by British DJ Sasha.
Trance syndicate: BT (also known as Brian Transeau) and his brand of electronic music were given a leg up by British DJ Sasha.
August 9

Red Jacket

In support of the new record, BT will be touring the States extensively for the next few months. Because he plays bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, and all electronic equipment on the album, he'll be joined in the fall by a four-piece band, but over the summer, he will be handling all duties himself. In reproducing the various sounds in his broad sonic palette, he dashes madly between racks of synthesizers and an electric guitar during his solo appearances, jumping in time with the huge beats and generally abusing his gear as much as possible. It's an image in direct opposition to that of the statuesque techno DJ staring blankly into his mixer; BT just might burn more calories in one set than anyone else in electronic music.

"When you got a good group of people that are up for it and you get a good synergy, you feed off their energy, they feed off yours, and it goes spastic."

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